Waiting With Grace: Roxanne’s Infertility Story

Each week I interview someone who has experienced infertility firsthand.  This week, I’m happy to be chatting with Roxanne from Grace Filled Waiting.   I was first introduced to her a few weeks ago when she did a guest post for Dancing Upon Barren Land, and I’m so grateful she was willing to share her story here today, too.

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Q. Tell us a little about yourself.

I was born and raised in Indiana. At 19 years old I met the man that became my best friend and a year later became my husband. After about 12 years or so God moved us to Texas, where our lives have been completely changed and blessed.

Q. How long have you been trying to conceive and what issues are you facing?

We have been trying to conceive for 19 years. We began trying within just a few months of getting married. We knew very early on that we wanted to have a child.

My husband and I have several infertility factors. I was diagnosed as having scar tissue and lesions around both of my ovaries and tubes. My tubes, however, are not completely blocked due to the lesions. My husband was diagnosed as having a low sperm count, bad motility and morphology, as well as varicocele.

Up to this point we have taken several paths of treatment. I have had laparoscopic surgery, we have done 3 IUI’s and about 3 years ago we did a round of IVF. All procedures were unsuccessful and therefore I have never experienced any pregnancies.

At this time, we are not seeking any further medical treatments. It is completely in God’s hands and we are open to any doors He may open.

Q. What made you decide to blog about your journey?

Coming through the failed IVF procedure was a very difficult time for me. Through it all though I just knew that there had to be some purpose in this. This could not have all been in vain. I don’t believe God works that way. The bible says in Romans 8:28 “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” I could not see the good that could come out of it at the time, nor could I envision how God would get glory out of what seemed like a huge mess to me, but I still believed that there had to be a way or we would not have had to take this road.

As I continued to pray for God to show me what He wanted me to do with this, He began to speak to me about starting a website ministry including a blog to help other women who are struggling with infertility as well. I desire to be open, vulnerable and honest with other women in order to connect and walk with them on their own infertility journeys. I am dedicated to pray for them and provide compassionate encouragement along the way.

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Q. How have you taken care of yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually during your struggles?

Unfortunately, I have not always seen the importance of taking care of myself as I should have. I wanted to make sure others were taken care of first over myself. Over the past several years though, God has helped me in this area. I now realize just how important it is to take care of myself for a number of reasons. The most obvious is for my own health benefit for my body. Second, if I don’t take care of myself, I am not able to give my best to others.

I have discovered over the past few years that I really enjoy participating in half-marathons and I absolutely love kickboxing. When I take time out to do these things for myself, I find that my emotional state is better and more level, for the most part :) It has helped in lowering my blood pressure as well. All of these benefits help with my spiritual well being as well. When I am healthier and happier I am able to stay focused on God and the things that He wants to do in me and through me. When I am not where I should be physically and I don’t feel well, I become tired and cranky and I am less likely to stay consistent with my daily spiritual disciplines or work as much on the ministry. I can become complacent and forget to look for what God is doing in my daily life.

It is so important to remember to take time to take care of yourself on this journey. The journey depletes us in many areas and we all need God to give us strength and perseverance to make it through. We will only get this by spending time with Him, which will nourish our spiritual selves. Not only do we need to be spiritually fit for this journey, we need to be as physically fit as we can as well. There are many important decisions to be made when dealing with infertility. If we are not healthy physically, emotionally and spiritually it is difficult to make those decisions wisely. So when the pressure begins to build, find that one thing that you really enjoy, take the time to do it, and you will see that the pressure will begin to be relieved. You will be amazed at how much better you will feel as a whole.

Q. What has been your lowest point and how did you survive it?

Over 19 years on this journey, there have been so many low points to choose from. However, as I reflect back, I think the lowest I have ever been was during our IVF procedure. This by far threw me for the biggest loop and threw me deeper into the pit of despair than I feel I had ever been. I always say that I have never been as desperate for God as I was during that time.

The back story to that starts with the fact that after we had exhausted our IUI attempts the doctor told me that our only option for having a baby would be IVF, I was devastated by that because my husband and I had never really desired to do IVF. There were many reasons at the time and so when the doctor said that was our last option, I thought all hope was lost. I thought my journey was ending there. At this point, I really started to grieve the fact that I may never be a mother.

Several years later, my husband got a new job. He came home and told me that during the benefits orientation he noticed that there was some fertility coverages offered. I wasn’t too concerned with it at first because I thought we had decided we were not going any further medically. However, he expressed to me that he wouldn’t mind if we investigated what it would entail. He said his main concern was me and what I would have to go through.

So, after praying about it for awhile, I decided that it wouldn’t hurt to at least go for a consultation for IVF. I was nervous at that first appointment. However, the doctor was very nice, took time with me and answered all of my questions. She really made me feel at ease. My husband and I then discussed it and decided to proceed.

Fast forward a few months and the time came to start the pre-treatment testing, then the shots then the procedure. All through this portion we were continually amazed watching God work out every single detail. And I do mean every single detail. All of the finances were taken care of almost down to the penny. Between insurance and unexpected sources, He made a way for us to have the amount we needed. Every decision that came up during the process, He showed us the way and made it plain before us. Any and every concern that we had, He made sure to take care of and put us at ease. I am telling you that God cares about every single detail of your life. If it concerns you then it concerns God. He showed us this over and over again.

One of my biggest concerns was that I did not want a high chance of multiples and I did not want to have leftover embryos to freeze. This was just my preference at that time. We were only willing to have 2 embryos implanted. By the time it came to do the transfer only 2 embryos had survived. So we had the exact number we were willing to transfer with no left over embryos. God had once again taken care of us.

As you can see, God moved mightily during our process. This was awesome, but it is also what made the end result so difficult to bear and why it threw me deep into the pit of despair. Because I could so clearly see God’s hand at work all the way through the process, I thought there was no way this could possibly fail because He was showing Himself in every step of the way. I had allowed myself to be hopeful again and vulnerable. Something I had not done in awhile. I think I had built some walls to keep hope at a distance so I wouldn’t get hurt again. This time just felt so different I couldn’t help but hope. We even went out and bought a baby outfit and began to look at nursery designs. Before I had avoided these areas of the store at all costs when possible. So surely God would not allow us to be disappointed and heartbroken again, would he?

After the transfer, I was placed on bed rest for a few days. During this time I was logging on to Hannah’s Prayer website and taking part in the forums. I was able to connect with so many other ladies who were dealing with infertility and some were in the same part of the process that I was. That was a source of encouragement for me daily. Then within a few days of having the 2 embryos transferred I started spotting. I tried to keep myself calm and convince myself that it was because the embryos were implanting. I kept asking a lot of questions on the forum and they were all telling me to stay calm that this was normal at this point. Then as the days went on I started to bleed more heavily. The sheer dread that began to fill my heart was overwhelming. I called the doctor and the nurse told me that there was nothing they could do that I would have to wait the 2 weeks until I could come in for a pregnancy test. She told me to continue with bed rest until then.

Bed rest for 2 weeks with nothing but your thoughts to torment you is agonizing. Every day the bleeding was getting heavier and my hope was diminishing. This is where the total desperation for God came in. I remember just like it was yesterday spending my days crying out to God begging him to allow my embryos to implant and be okay. I was still trying to read my bible as much as I could looking for any glimmer of hope I could muster up. Some days I could do it and some days I could not. Some days the only thing I could do was say the name of Jesus and ask him to help me and comfort me.

Finally the time came and I had the pregnancy test. The doctor then called later that day and told me that I was not pregnant. The procedure had failed. I really cannot tell you much of anything else she said on the phone because I went numb. I remember hanging up the phone and screaming at God. One thing about my relationship with God is that He would never have to wonder what I was feeling, although he already knows, but I am very open and honest with him. If I am mad I let Him know, if I am sad I let Him know, whatever it is, I make it very plain. The thing I have learned is that I can come to Him in my most desperate times with all of my ugly cries and my emotions and He can take it. He still loves me and is there to comfort me and hold me up. He never condemns me for coming to Him.

I reminded God that IVF was not something I had ever wanted to do and yet He threw the door open and gave us an incredible opportunity. We felt like we obeyed and did everything He asked us to do. So how in the world could he rip the rug out from under us and not allow our miracle to come forth. I was so angry.

For the next several months waves of grief would come and wash over me and I would feel so hopeless and angry. We had done everything and yet my arms still remained empty and I still had no little one to call me mommy. During these most desperate times I continued to cry out to God because I knew He was the only one that ultimately would be able to heal me from the pain and grief and I just knew that something good had to come out of this. I needed to believe in this so I could try to cope with the devastation.

It took several months, but God was so patient with me and faithful. He never left me and continued to show me love and grace. Finally, almost a year later He began to show me glimpses of revelation as to why I had to walk through this. It was another way to mold me into the woman He desired me to be in order to be able to minister to the people He would be bringing into my life. He was also using it to bring about Grace-Filled Waiting ministry.

Once I was able to work through the grief and allow God to heal me of that I was open to the next steps He wanted me to take into ministry.

God’s love and grace along with the support of my husband and friends was what allowed me to persevere and make it out of this pit of despair. For that, I am ever so grateful.

Q. Have you been able to find a “silver lining” in your infertility?

I do believe I have been able to find a “silver lining” in my infertility. I believe the road of infertility has helped to lead me to my destiny. Since going through this journey, God has blessed me with Grace-Filled Waiting ministry. I truly believe that had I not had to walk this infertility road, I would not be in the place of ministry that I am in today. I am in such a place of contentment not only in my journey but also in full-time ministry. I have never been as happy and content in ministry before. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am doing exactly what God intended for me to be doing. Because of this, I believe I have been able to come out of a place of resentment for the journey into a place of peace with the journey.

Q. Anything else you’d like to share with my readers?

I know firsthand how excruciating this infertility journey is. It can bring frustration, loneliness, disappointment, resentment, jealously, shame, guilt and grief, just to name a few things. One thing I would like to share is to tell you to show yourself some grace on this journey. Be kind to yourself. Don’t beat yourself up or condemn yourself for how you feel. Allow yourself to experience the feelings that come along with this roller coaster ride. It is okay to experience them and it okay to express the grief that infertility brings. The important thing is to experience them, allow God to help you and heal you of them, and then continue to move forward with God. Don’t allow yourself to get stuck in the pit.

I want to encourage you though that even in the midst of all of emotions, the feelings and the hurt, God is still walking beside you. He loves you and He has not forgotten about you. He is working things out for your good. Even though you may not be able to see it right now, at just the right time He will give you a glimpse into the purpose of your own infertility journey.

He has such amazing plans and a purpose for each of your lives. Keep following hard after Jesus. Look for the blessing He brings into your lives every day.

When the hard times come, take your cares to the throne. The bible says in Hebrews 4:16 – “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” I promise you that there can be joy in your life, peace and contentment even in the midst of waiting for the manifestation of your miracle. I am a living testimony to that fact. I still have empty arms, but am able to be joyful, at peace and be content even while I am still in the waiting room as well. God wants the same thing for you. Allow Him to help you.

I am praying for all of us on the journey. Thank you so much for allowing me to share a little about myself and my journey and for sharing my heart with you. For further prayer or encouragement, please visit my website and follow me on Twitter.

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Many thanks to Roxanne for sharing her infertility story with us.  Please leave her a comment below to let her know you appreciate her. 

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This post is linked up with Faith Filled Friday // 

Bonus Interview: Emily’s Infertility Story

Each week I interview someone who has firsthand experience with infertility. Today I’m interviewing Emily Adams, author of the new book, For Those With Empty Arms.   I was actually supposed to post her interview two Fridays ago, but I mixed her up with another Emily and accidentally posted that Emily’s interview twice!  She was so gracious and forgiving, and I’m happy she agreed to let me publish her interview today.  Consider it a “bonus” interview!  Enjoy!

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Q. Tell us a little about yourself.

I grew up in a small town in Washington. Most of my childhood years were spent running around the foothills of the cascades with my friends and siblings. The smell of sagebrush and bunchgrass still make me feel energetic and at peace with myself. When I wasn’t playing in the mountains, I was reading, writing or singing. My husband, Trent, and I were introduced by my college roommate. We hit it off right away—learning that we had the same quirky sense of humor, shared a love of religion, and that we both loved reading and singing. We were close friends for three years before we started dating. We married seven months later.

Q. How long have you been trying to conceive and what issues are you facing?

My husband and I tried for four and a half years before we conceived via in vitro. We now have twins: a boy and a girl. Though we have decided to keep the details of our specific diagnosis private, we know that, realistically speaking, we will never be able to conceive without in vitro.

Q. Do you and your spouse cope with infertility in the same way or do you handle it differently?

I would say that while we have different coping mechanisms, we have the same coping strategy. The coping mechanisms are just little things that help give quick relief for sudden upsetting news—kind of like emotional Tylenol. For example, I like to write or talk in order to help sort out my feelings. Trent likes for me to rub his shoulders so he can relax. Our coping strategy, however, is much more sweeping and involves how we make decisions and move forward together as a couple. Our coping strategy is one we worked out together. It involves daily scripture study, daily prayer, going to doctor’s appointments together (even if only one of us needs to go), and making sure to put emphasis on strengthening our marriage.

Q. Your book, For Those with Empty Arms, was recently published. Tell us a little about the book and what made you decide to write about your journey?

I decided to write For Those with Empty Arms shortly after we got the diagnosis that told us we would need in vitro in order to ever have children. I was so overwhelmed, I decided I needed help. Since reading has always been one of my favorite ways to seek knowledge and comfort, I went to a local bookstore to find a few titles someone had recommended to me. Once I was there, not only did I not find any of the books I was looking for, I didn’t find any books on infertility at all. It was at that moment I decided I would write a book about infertility, but I didn’t yet know what I wanted to put into it.

When I finally did find books about infertility, I found that most of them were like medical text books. They explained the causes of infertility and different methods of treatment. I wanted a more personal book to help me feel some empathy and comfort. When I found books that were more personal, most of them seemed to end with the couple finding happiness after they had a child. At the time, I didn’t know if I would ever be able to have children, and I wanted to know how I could be ok even if I never conceived. Suddenly, I realized that there must be others who wanted the same thing: an empathetic story that focuses on being happy even in the midst of a trial. So, with help from my husband, family, friends and spiritual leaders, I started learning how to be happy, and then I began writing about it.

Q. How have you taken care of yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually during your struggles?

For our spiritual welfare, my husband and I read Scriptures daily, we pray together and individually, we attend church on Sundays, attend Scripture study groups when possible and we often speak with our minister—who has been very supportive and kind.

I feel like much of our spiritual efforts also help with our emotions, but I think the biggest emotional comfort aside from our spiritual endeavors lies in strengthening our relationship. We made sure to go on weekly dates, spend time laughing with each other, and seeking to help one another in our careers and interests.

For me, I feel like taking care of myself physically was hardest. I admit that I gained a lot of weight during the time I struggled, sometimes because of treatments, but also because I felt a general lethargy for quite some time after the diagnosis. Eventually, after many failed attempts to work out on my own, my husband found a gym that had Zumba classes (he knows I love to dance) and took me there to see if I wanted a membership. Having a workout routine I enjoyed helped immensely.

Q. What has been your lowest point and how did you survive it?

Our lowest point was definitely a blizzard-y day in January 2014. We still refer to it as “That Day”. On the same day our car was stolen, our doctor told us that we had one more procedure to do before we could proceed with in vitro and that if the procedure did not work, neither would in vitro. We had been trying for kids for four years. On That Day, it seriously looked like we might never be able to have children, and we weren’t sure if we could afford both the procedure and replacing our car.

Looking back, I think we survived by relying on Grace. It was a hard blow to absorb, but we moved forward, hoping that we would someday understand what God had in mind for us. We relied on the knowledge that God loves us and wants us to be happy. We trusted that he had a plan for us. Though it took many days, many prayers, and many visits to the doctor, we were able to make it through. The first hundred prayers saw our car returned to us, the next the success of the first procedure, a few hundred more saw us through in vitro. A few thousand prayers later, we discovered that God wanted us to be the parents of twins.

Q. Have you been able to find a “silver lining” in your infertility?

Yes. I feel like our struggles helped us to rely more on each other and more on God. Because we had to look to each other and to God for comfort so often, I feel like all three of us drew closer together.

Q. Which books, quotes, websites, verses, movies, songs, etc. have been an encouragement to you during your journey?

I have always found solace in the fact that the Bible mentions many couples who struggled with infertility: Abraham and Sarah, Jacob and Rachel, Zacharias and Rachel. I loved that the Bible shows that these were righteous people, and that their infertility didn’t come from a lack of faith.

Another figure who always interested me was the woman with the issue of blood. I often think of her reaching out to Christ in an effort to seek healing. I often felt I was doing the same.

Many thanks to Emily for sharing her infertility story with us. Please leave a comment below to let her know you appreciate her.

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Finding God’s Peace in the Journey {Giveaway}

Many of you may remember the interview I did a few weeks ago with Lois Flowers.  In addition to being the mother to two girls, Lois is also an accomplished author.  She’s written two books, and one is about infertility.  She generously gave me two copies of Infertility: Finding God’s Peace in the Journey to give away today.

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Throughout the book, Lois shares her story of infertility, faith, and the path that led her to adoption.  She talks about the strategies that helped her navigate insensitive comments, interacting with pregnant friends and acquaintances, and prayer when you’re too tired to pray.

“I derived great comfort in knowing that, when words failed me and when I was too weary to pray, the Holy Spirit was interceding on my behalf, lovingly reminding the Father of what my heart didn’t know how to express.” [p. 71].

“A thick skin doesn’t develop without some degree of battering, and a soft heart isn’t created without any tears.  But when both exist in the same person, they allow for a degree of strength and compassion that is hard to find in someone who has never experienced any kind of suffering.  Remember that the next time someone tells you to ‘just relax.'” [p. 119].

She writes honestly about figuring out where to draw the line in terms of which fertility treatments she was willing to do , but does not imply her limits should be everyone’s limits.

“You may come to a different conclusion about IVF and other ARTs, and that’s fine.  What I’ve written is my own personal conviction, not a hard-and-fast rule for everyone.  My opinion about IVF really isn’t your primary concern, anyway.  At this point, your focus should be on trying to determine what, if anything, God wants you to do regarding the medical treatment of your infertility.” [p. 146].

Finally, Lois shares how she went through the process of letting go of her dream of having a biological child and how she moved toward adoption.  AND she gives hope, affirmation, and encouragement to women whose stories may not include adoption, but that of childless or child-free living.

“God can use you just as much- if not more so- as a childless couple or individual than He could if you had children…” [p. 184].

“Holding on leads to bitterness and misery.  But letting go opens the door to peace and acceptance.” [p. 185].

What I enjoyed most about the book is that Lois doesn’t present it as a manual or “how-to.”  She merely shares her story and the wisdom that she gained in hope that it may help other people in similar circumstances.  I encourage you to enter the giveaway so you have a chance to read it, too.

If you don’t win the giveaway, but want still want to read the book, you can purchase it on Lois’ website.  (The book was published in 2003 and is no longer available through major book distributors).

To enter the giveaway, use the Rafflecopter widget below.  (Click here if you’re on a mobile device or can’t see the widget).  This giveaway ends on 12:00am PST on May 26th and is only open to residents of the United States.

 

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Ruth’s Infertility Story

Each week I interview someone who has been through infertility.  This week, I’m happy to be chatting with Ruth from The One in Eight.  I hope you enjoy her interview and check out her new blog!

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Q. Tell us a little about yourself.

I am a play therapist and school counselor. I love the Georgia Bulldogs and I love to travel. My husband, Andy and I live just outside of Atlanta. We bought our first house in October and are loving it! Andy and I met in middle school when my dad became the pastor of his family’s church. We started dating in high school and will celebrate our five year wedding anniversary on May 15th. We survived each other’s awkward stages, so we can get through infertility, right?? I just recently started blogging at www.theoneineight.com. I’m still figuring things out!

Q. How long have you been trying to conceive and what issues are you facing?

Andy and I have been trying to conceive since August 2012, so we are almost at the three year mark and have been trying for half of our marriage! After trying on our own for one year, we consulted with my doctor, who ended up referring us to the fertility doctor we’re with now. Andy was diagnosed with varicocele, which has impacted the morphology and motility of his sperm. The count was low, as well, but not our main issue. Andy had surgery to correct the varicocele, and we have seen improvements.

My HSG showed that one tube was blocked, but when they did my laparoscopy, they found that it was actually just tangled in adhesions. Turns out I had appendicitis at some point and I had adhesions all along my uterus, appendix, and gall bladder. They also found Stage One Endometriosis, which also caused adhesions, as well as cysts and polyps in my uterus. The good news is that my tube was not blocked and my doctor was able to free my uterus and tube of the adhesions. The bad news, of course, is that Endometriosis grows back, so my cysts and polyps and those adhesions will most likely return.  [Read more…]

Taking Charge of Your Fertility Giveaway

In honor of National Women’s Health Week, I’m teaming up with Fairhaven Health for an awesome giveaway today.  If you’ve been trying to conceive for any amount of time, you’ve probably heard of the book, Taking Charge of Your Fertility, by Toni Weschler.  Countless women have mentioned it in my interviews with them.  I’ve written about it several times on this blog and on my personal blog and I give it as a wedding shower gift.  Basically, it’s THE book to read if you want to learn more about conception, fertility, and reproductive health.

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Fairhaven has generously offered to give away an AUTOGRAPHED copy (how cool!) of the book, along with 25 of their BFP Ovulation Test Strips.   Even if you already own the book, you should enter and give it away as a gift to someone who is trying to conceive.

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Fairhaven and Toni have also created a new online charting tool, Ovagraph, to support the content in the book.  They’ve added new features to the BBT charts to incorporate FAM (Fertility Awareness Method) principles to the BBT algorithms on the site. The Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) is a system for predicting the fertile (and infertile) days in your menstrual cycle, by observing and charting two primary fertility signs: basal body temperature and cervical fluid.

You can enter by using the Rafflecopter widget below.  (Click here if you can’t see the widget).  The giveaway ends at 12:00am PST on May 22, 2015.  This giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. only.

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This post contains Fairhaven Health affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on one of my links, I receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you). Thanks for supporting this site. I was not compensated for this post, nor did I receive any free products. All product information was supplied to me by Fairhaven Health. All images courtesy of Fairhaven Health.

This post is linked up with Fellowship Fridays // Freedom Fridays // Dare to Share